Is society inherently corrupt?

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

A look at the global arms industry and the effect corruption has on our politics, society and culture.

Bribery, fraud and dishonest conduct by people in power – corruption is a cancer in society, no matter where you live. But who are the guilty parties? Is corruption becoming socially accepted? And what can we do about it?

On this episode of South2North, Redi Tlhabi takes a look at the effect corruption has on our politics, society and culture.

Redi talks to Andrew Feinstein, a former parliamentarian and co-founder of Corruption Watch UK, an organisation dedicated to exposing bribery and corruption. Feinstein is also a whistleblower on illegal arms deals and the author of the book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, that investigates the dark side of this trillion-dollar industry.

Feinstein explains why corruption in the global arms trade has interested him specifically:

“It’s estimated that the trade in weapons accounts for around 40 percent of all corruption in all world trade ….The thing that I think is so important about it is it runs to the core of the way we’re governed, because the trade in weapons is extremely closely tied into the mechanics of government. The defence manufacturers, those who make the weapons, are closely tied in to governments, to militaries, to intelligence agencies and crucially to political parties. So they have enormous influence.”


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  1. banger

    Personally, I believe the main source of corruption is the confusion of the citizenry of various countries. This confusion is, in my view, engineered by propagandists who have learned all the tricks of the trade in manufacturing consent. But they are also aided by a cultures (particularly in the U.S.) that is focused on consumption–not just of goods and services but on entertainment. As long as the corporate oligarchs can provide us with something approaching the power of the Matrix people will ignore the machinations involved in the corrupt politics that surrounds them both on a local, national and global level.

    If people paid more attention and started hanging out together and re-forming real social networks this situation might change.  

  2. terryhallinan

    When I was coming home from Vietnam through Japan, I was struck by advice that Japanese merchants could be relied on to give the precise price of pearls in New York from which they offered a fine discount but it was necessary to know that you were not dealing with a Chinese merchant.  Seemed the Chinese merchant could be depended only to lie.

    I bought no pearls, had no interest in buying pearls, was never good at determining the ethnicity of people but I was struck by the difference in perceived ways of doing business.

    Was one corrupt and the other ethical if the proposition was correct?  

    Or was it something else?

    Something else is my guess.

    Others here must have heard how the Nazis cleaned up corruption when they first took control in Germany.  Yeah, that worked out swell.

    How do you explain Reagan putting the crooked bankers in jail and Obama putting them in charge of the Treasury, the Fed and economic advice?  Didn’t Reagan have the most corrupt administration in history?

    Broad brush generalities leave a bit of the story out.


    Best,  Terry

  3. Lasthorseman

    We are predators.  We have two eyes to focus on what we had to kill to survive.  We did not eat grass like horses do and somewhere along the evolutionary scale we got “intelligent which made us the ultimate predator.  Check out my latest SOFEX post the ultimate arms trade trade show.

  4. Mike Taylor

    If people were perfect, we would’nt have needed the first law, we could just turn everyone loose and they would behave perfectly all on their own.

    It’s the law of the jungle without regulation (primarily against greed).

  5. banger

    A good system is not too rigid and allows cracks and alternatives ways to get around laws and regs. Rigid adherence to laws is, as  you imply with the Nazis kind of a problem. So, our problem today is that corruption is a more central part of our lives than peripheral. All major institutions in this country are deeply corrupt. FIRE sector, medical industry, military-industrial complex, food industry and so on. A little rule bending in all these areas is fine–but when it dominates the system it creates enormous inefficiencies. Eventually cheating and corruption starts to spread. Teachers, for example, are one of the more honest professions yet they now have, in some localities were the “tests” dominate education they cheat. The tests, of course, are absurd but that’s the situation.

    One final problem is that cheating and dishonesty cannot but fail to increase in a culture that is averse to truth-telling in fact but for it in theory.

  6. terryhallinan

    At least in my case.

    I am looking down from old age and forgetting some of the real ugly stuff from the past and ignoring the enormous change in youth for whom the dollar is no longer almighty.

    I could not have imagined the huge gains for gays over just the last few years.

    The lunacies of the drug wars is coming into clear focus and all the might of the federal government is not enough to stanch the bleeding.

    Women are winning though the struggle has had recent setbacks.

    The old order is seeing the sunset rather than the dawn it appears to me but I will grant you my eyesight is getting dimmer.

    Liberals have never been more than a marginal percentage of the population even from the very beginning but the facetious use of progressive for liberal is clearly farcical illusion and deception.  We are winning, friend, even if we never live to taste the fruits of victory.

    Best,  Terry

  7. terryhallinan

    Humans are omnivorous rather carnivorous.  Our systems are actually very primitive except for brains and hands.

    Very surprisingly a very close ancestor seems to have lived primarily on grass.  The appendix is a troublesome remain of the double stomach of a vegetarian ancestor though we are certainly vegetarians no longer.

    We can yet choose whether to be predators or not.

    It is quite clear how you have chosen but the rest of us are not so easy to analyze.


    Best,  Terry

  8. terryhallinan

    Early human ancestors in central Africa 3.5 million years ago ate a diet of mostly tropical grasses and sedges, finds new research.


    No, that’s not the same as smoking it. :-)

    Best,  Terry

  9. Lasthorseman

    I have chosen what.  The mere fact that we have by our “intellectual” capacity brought our own planet to several near extintion level events.  Yes one of our ancestors(so we may have been told, for people control purposes), oh excuse me I happen to be only a suburban US baby boomer rejecting life as it has been lied to me over the years.  I would rather embrace as fact the world once had the advanced civilizations of Atlantis and being the defective species we are fucked it all up and ended ourselves prematurely.  If you think about it well the cycle continues.

    Ah, we should be able to choose, but we don’t/won’t.

  10. terryhallinan

    I would rather embrace as fact the world once had the advanced civilizations of Atlantis and being the defective species we are fucked it all up and ended ourselves prematurely.

    While Sarah Palin is never going to find her funny-looking dinosaur horses hiding in caves, every day it seems absolute certain scientific truth is turned into fairy tale twaddle.  Gigantic scientific edifices are built on tiny grains of misleading information.

    A tiny fragment of bone was found that is believed to come from the end of a pinkie of a woman belonging to a formerly unknown species somewhat intermediate between neanderthals and true humans. [Is it right to call neanderthals a separate species since we know there was interbreeding that is carried in more than the genes of Republicans?] While there are daily new findings about X-Woman, my favorite bit of research involves searching through mythology to find some clues about x-people.  

    The Nazis utilized Atlantans to try to resolve conflicts with their kookball theories which kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I see Atlantis brought up but there is no shortage of drowned and buried civilizations.

    My favorite are the hobbit people who really truly lived.  Once there were denials that they fashioned and used tools quite well because, you see, those tiny brains just couldn’t be as good as ours.  Mostly the tools were used for killing and butchering, of course, as with us.

    I meant no insult of any kind.  In fact I consider it praiseworthy that you are likely more of a peaceful sort than myself by my thinking.

    I will always be horribly conflicted and bewildered.

    In Vietnam Episcopalian missionaries managed the arduous task of translating the Bible and other church liturgy into Moi and probably other Montagnard languages.

    The way they did the translations was to first translate into French (the closest thing to a universal language at least at the time) and then into Moi and finally reverse the process to check their work.

    And how did it work?

    – Not terribly well to my mind.  “God is love” came back “the Great Spirit is not angry.”  

    But that was nothing compared to the Moi pleading with the missionaries to carry messages to the UN and any other forums to try to stop the Vietnamese extermination of Moi.  The missionaries flat refused because they were there to save souls only.

    Seems much like our charity to the rebels in Syria.

    Best,  Terry  

  11. banger

    On balance, we have accrued tremendous advances in our civilization–not just in terms of technology but in terms of allowing more people to be considered full citizens–most Americans even favor legalizing marijuana. But there have been some serious problems that have resulted. The changes in racial and sexual attitudes have also come with a change in morality. People are tolerant not just of sexual orientation but of cheating and dishonesty.

    We are in a transition period and it makes a lot of sense to deconstruct traditional morality–our world is radically different now–in fact, you could say we live on another planet than the one I was born on. People are having a hard time–mental illnesses particularly anxiety and depression are increasingly common–covering them up with pharmaceuticals is ok but, on the other hand, the origins of this outbreak of depression is not being addressed and I don’t think that’s healthy.

    As we have seen, many people, particularly on the right have literally lost their senses–they live increasingly in a fantasy world that is, essentially, nihilistic in spirit and in fact. Rational discussion is impossible not just between left and right but, often, between anyone.

    I believe that this period of not listening to each other will pass and a new pragmatic ethic will evolve. We would be in great shape now if we knew who we were.

  12. banger

    I really appreciate what you say here. You’re thoughtful and dare to look beneath the surface.

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